Francisco Lindor, who was named one of the American League BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award finalists last night, is currently in Camden Yards keeping busy working with Under Armor. He was kind enough to take a few minutes out his schedule yesterday afternoon to talk with me over the phone and answer a few questions. It was brief, and felt even shorter, but in that span we dished about family, what it's like getting your first call-up to the Majors, and--of course--the divisive act tearing our country apart at the seams: Bat flips.
Also, my dream of adding him as a friend on Xbox Live is probably dead.
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Let’s Go Tribe: Obviously it was a blast to watch once you joined the Indians. What was it like when you first heard the news you were being called up?
Francisco Lindor: It was great. I was a little anxious, you know, I was with family at the time. I had the opportunity and the blessing to calm my family down and share the news with them. So it was pretty cool, a pretty cool experience. I was a little anxious that night waiting for that flight for me to go the airport to get on that plane and fly to Detroit.
LGT: I remember when they did the call-up… on our end it was a little confusing to know exactly when you were coming. Was there any kind of delay in letting you know? Or when you knew did you come right up?
FL: No, I found out. We were playing, but we stopped the game because of the rain. So I went into the clubhouse, you know, I grabbed my phone and saw a text message from Francona. That’s kind of how I found out. I saw a text message from him telling me to "hurry up and get up here." I was a little shocked, I looked around, I wanted to tell one of the guys, but you know what they say: "don’t say anything until it’s completely out there."
So, I ran out to the dugout to look for my family, and tell them "hey I think I got called up." The manager was in the dugout and he saw me smiling, and looking for the family. He asked me what I was doing. I said I was looking for the family and he was like "well, why are you so happy?" I said, "well my mom is gonna cook, [the game’s] rained out, I’m spending time with the family." And he knew at that point that I kinda had an idea, and he asked me about it: "You know, don’t you?" And I was like "yes, I know."
After that, I told the family to come down and share the news with them. It was the next morning that I was flying to Detroit.
LGT: That’s great! Did your family come to every game, or did they just happen to be at that one?
FL: No, they spent that whole week in Columbus with me in my apartment. They were leaving Sunday, and I just found out the news on Saturday night. They were going to go back to Florida, but since I got called up they stayed an extra week.
LGT: How has it been compared to your expectations since you’ve been called up to the big leagues?
FL: It’s been great, you know, I’ve had a blast. I’ve had the opportunity to share it with a great group of guys that help me get better, and they help the experience to be a lot more joyful and,, it’s a great experience and hopefully I get the opportunity and the blessing to play for a long time.
LGT: Yeah, we can see the joy in your face every game it seems like you’re always smiling. It’s great.
FL: Always. Gotta smile man. Gotta smile.
LGT: Definitely. Do you have a favorite moment so far in the organization? Either on the Indians or in the minor leagues?
FL: I think when I got called up, seeing my family there. Seeing my nieces, my nephew, my sisters, all of them. Seeing how happy they were and how proud they were. I think that was one of the coolest experiences I have ever shared so far. My dad didn’t get a chance to see me in person, you know, when I got called up. But when I went down to Tampa, I saw him over there. Every time I go up to hit, seeing my dad and my mom, I think that’s one of the biggest and better experiences I’m ever gonna have.
LGT: So now that you’re in the offseason, what do you do to fill time when you’re not either working with Under Armor like you are right now, or MLB or anything like that? Do you play any video games?
FL: No, no, I don’t do video games. I watch TV, I sleep, I travel, spend time with my dog, you know, and. of course spending time with the family is a very big part of the offseason. Just, I try to spend as much time as I can with them too, you now. Because they don’t see me every day during the season, so. Spending time with them, spending time with the dog, sleeping, eating.
LGT: I know you’re currently in Camden Yards working with Under Armor on products with the "Push the game" campaign. Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment you’ve had the chance to try out?
FL: Yeah, the cleats. I think the cleats are gonna be pretty legit next campaign, as well as the batting gloves. I like the batting gloves. Under Armor has been great about getting our opinions every time they try to do something different. Under Armor is all about getting better and winning, you know? And they’re trying to win at every aspect of the game. That’s why I like the company, that’s why I'm with them.
LGT: What are you expectations for 2016? For you, the team, and just in general?
FL: My personal expectations are to continue to get better, continue to help the Indians, and help the Indians win. And, you know, be a better person. I want to be a better person and a better teammate. As for team expectations, I want to win. Because ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. I want to win. We have to win. At the end of the night, everybody will go home happy if you win.
LGT: That is great to hear. So the last thing I’m going to ask is, what is your take on both Jose Bautista’s bat flip in the ALCS, and just bat-flipping in general?
FL: [long pause] I think it’s the moment of the game that will take you to a bat flip. I don’t think it has to be that much, but I loved it, you know. It’s just, I don’t think he was doing it to show up the pitcher or show the game up. I don’t think he thinks he’s bigger than the game. The moment takes you that reaction. It was a very big home run.
I was a Latin player back home, and we kind of play the game like that. We don’t think we’re bigger than the game because we’re not. The game will never stop because of us. It’s just adrenaline takes you to that point. He didn’t do it to show anybody up. He just obviously felt good as anybody would.
LGT: Well, thank you so much for taking the time, Francisco.
FL: Alright my man, have a good one.
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One thing that does not come across in text is just how serious he was when a question about winning came up. It is something you can just hear in his voice: Francisco Lindor wants to win, and he wants to win badly. This was a fantastic experience and I cannot thank Lindor enough for taking the time to chat, and Under Armor for setting the whole thing up.